Sitting outside on this beautiful day, looking across the property to our little red barn, makes me realize just how out lives really do touch the lives of those coming behind us. You see, that red barn was built in the early 1900’s and the men who built it had no idea that in 2019, a little blonde haired southern woman would be SO grateful for their hard work! Not only for their “choice” to build the barn, but for their stick-to-it-tiveness to get’r done. Now, here I sit years and years later using and enjoying the fruit of their decision to stick with the vision.
Have you ever been “all in” in something where you invested your passions, strength, focus, and intentionality only to have someone or a situation walk right into your momentum trying to slow you down with drama? That is where Nehemiah found himself. He, too, was on a mission to build more than a barn, but he was to rebuild the gates and walls that surrounded Jerusalem.
Nehemiah saw this vision fist in his heart as he wept and prayed for Jerusalem. Verse 3 in Chapter 1 of Nehemiah shows us the news brought to him. Then, verse 4 shows us his response to the vision God had placed IN him and how he prayed:
1 In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, 2 Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
3 They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
4 When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”
In Nehemiah’s prayer, he recited that God gave Moses a vision that, if obeyed, blessing would follow. But if not obeyed, calamity. Nehemiah also knew, (in that moment of weeping and prayer), that God was giving him a vision that would directly impact the lives of His people and the people to follow for years to come. Nehemiah had a choice, as did Moses. To obey the vision, or not. To abandon the calling, or to cultivate it.
Oswald Chambers explains how we can begin a chapter of calamities in our life or we can begin a chapter of living ablaze for the glory of God:
The great truth underlying calamity is that the truth and the way of God is seen but abandoned because it is too difficult. In personal life, the same truth applies; calamity and disaster always follows when God’s way is seen but abandoned because it was too difficult. Abandon is not rebellion yet; abandon simply means – “That is a nice vision, but it is not for me.” From that moment you begin your chapter of calamities; if you have seen the vision it is for you. Every now and again, not often, but sometimes God brings us to a point of climax, and it means the Great Divide in our life: we either abandon into worse sordidness spiritually, or we become ablaze for the glory of God.
Nehemiah chose well! He chose to look at obstacles, criticizers, the negative and the naysayers with the right mind-set. He chose to not let difficulties defeat him. He chose to SEE and crave the completion of God’s vision to the point that he said, (and I paraphrase Nehemiah 6:3-4) –
“I’m not coming down! I’m not coming down to your level. I’m busy doing a great work – carrying out the Vision of my God. Why would I leave it just to come down to you? If I did that, I’d be abandoning the Vision and bringing calamities into the camp. No matter how difficult, I chose to keep my eyes on God’s vision!”
As a result, the walls and gates of Jerusalem were rebuilt in only 52 days!!….and God’s GLORY was displayed through the leadership of one man’s decision – to not abandon the Vision!
Here’s how this is speaking to me …
God has HIS vision for my life, for your life, and we have a choice. To seek to carry out that vision, or not. Nehemiah chose to carry out the vision, but not only that – he refused to be distracted by anything trying to harm him:
“I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” Nehemiah 6:3
The battles we find ourselves in are either lost or won in the secret places of our “will.” The place where we “choose.” So, we’re to let the Word of God literally bore a hole in our self-complacency about whatever the “thing” is He has positioned in our life as His vision … that “thing”, that assignment, that calling, that work, … and THEN we will discover the dynamite of His power and glory at work!
Never ever put any “thing” off and say, “Oh well, it doesn’t matter. It’ll eventually get done.” When God has revealed any “thing” to us for our involvement, y’all, it’s a matter of our taking a step of faith and “cultivate” that calling. Begin working the soil of it, nourish it with the rich nutrients of scripture, obedience and hard work. But I will say this – the caution in all this is – when the naysayers, the criticism, and the sheer brute attacks on our mission is trying to get us to “come down,” (to get all involved in the drama that’s being stirred up), ladies, we don’t go down. We just don’t go down.
Instead, we keep going. And we share in Nehemiah’s prayer and ask, “Give your servant success today.”
Don’t go down….stick with the vision!